Videotaped traffic stop on I-95 (MD)

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ASHDUMP

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It gets a little hairy towards the end of the video... Gun involved.


Traffic stop video on YouTube sparks debate on police use of Md. wiretap laws

In early March, Anthony Graber, a 25-year-old staff sergeant for the Maryland Air National Guard, was humming a tune while riding his two-year-old Honda motorcycle down Interstate 95, not far from his home north of Baltimore. On top of his helmet was a camera he often used to record his journeys. The camera was rolling when an unmarked gray sedan cut him off as he stopped behind several other cars along Exit 80.

From the driver's side emerged a man in a gray pullover and jeans. The man, who was wielding a gun, repeatedly yelled at Graber, ordering him to get off his bike. Only then did Maryland State Trooper Joseph D. Uhler identify himself as "state police" and holster his weapon. Graber, who'd been observed popping a wheelie while speeding, was cited for doing 80 in a 65 mph zone. Graber accepted his ticket, which he says he deserved.

A week later, on March 10, Graber posted his video of the encounter on YouTube. What followed wasn't a furor over the police officer's behavior but over Graber's use of a camera to capture the entire episode.

On April 8, Graber was awakened by six officers raiding his parents' home in Abingdon, Md., where he lived with his wife and two young children. He learned later that prosecutors had obtained a grand jury indictment alleging he had violated state wiretap laws by recording the trooper without his consent.

The case has ignited a debate over whether police are twisting a decades-old statute intended to protect people from government intrusions of privacy to, instead, keep residents from recording police activity.

Maryland's wiretap law applies only to audio recordings, so it is just the sound from Graber's video that is at issue legally. Like 11 other states, Maryland requires all parties to consent before a recording might be made if a conversation takes place where there is a "reasonable expectation of privacy." (By contrast, Virginia and the District require one party's consent to a recording.) But is there any expectation of privacy in a police stop? That's where police and civil libertarians differ.

During a 90-minute search of Graber's parents' home, police confiscated four computers, the camera, external hard drives and thumb drives. The police didn't take Graber to jail that day because he had just had gall bladder surgery.

A week later, he turned himself in. "I just wanted to do the right thing," he said in an April interview with Miami journalist Carlos Miller, who runs the blog Photography Is Not a Crime.

It was Graber's first arrest. He spent 26 hours in jail. Graber has since stopped talking publicly about the case on the advice of his attorneys. On June 1, he was arraigned in Harford County Circuit Court in Bel Air. He faces up to 16 years in prison if convicted on all charges.

The YouTube effect

Maryland's wiretap law has been around since the 1970s, before the VHS era, let alone the digital revolution, and did not anticipate the advent of video cameras attached to helmets or embedded in cellphones. Nor did the law anticipate YouTube and the ease with which such videos could be disseminated. Until now, its most famous alleged violator was Monica Lewinsky confidante Linda Tripp -- then a Columbia resident -- who taped her phone conversations with the aide about her relationship with President Bill Clinton. (The case was dismissed.)
Freedoms lost or just circumstances?

I hope this is not a dupe....
 
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Before this get locked, I'll just remind people that the significance of this video is not the traffic stop, it's what happens later. After the motorcyclist posted the video the MD state police raided his home and charged him with wiretapping or illegal recording. MD has a two party consent law. A little chilling.
 

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I should have figured it was a dupe..... but never the less..... I really don't understand how a trooper can pull someone over for speeding or on the suspicion of reckless driving and pull a gun on them? I'm not a law connoisseur but seems a little crazy to me.... So next time I get pulled over for speeding should I worry that the cop has his gun drawn already?

Granted the guy was popping wheelies but how was the cop threatened? Also, if the guy posted the video without audio this would be a non issue I presume from the article.
 
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I should have figured it was a dupe..... but never the less..... I really don't understand how a trooper can pull someone over for speeding or on the suspicion of reckless driving and pull a gun on them? I'm not a law connoisseur but seems a little crazy to me.... So next time I get pulled over for speeding should I worry that the cop has his gun drawn already?

Granted the guy was popping wheelies but how was the cop threatened? Also, if the guy posted the video without audio this would be a non issue I presume from the article.
WRT your first point, the trooper drew his weapon, he did not point it at the motorcyclist. He drew the weapon for his safety, he doesn't know if the person on the bike is going to comply and shut the bike down or try to run him down & take off. Lets remember, the trooper is only doing his job, he's not the one breaking the law.

WRT your second point, plenty of police officers approach m/v's with their guns drawn and down by their side. Once again, this is for their safety, there are plenty of videos of officers being shot at as they approach the driver's window of a car they have stopped to attest to the justification this tactic.

WRT your third point, you are correct, we have the same law in Mass. Video but no audio without the other person's knowledge.
 
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First, the police car does not have any flashing strobes or blue lights on it, if it did, they were not visible in the video.
Second, the cop was not in uniform.
Third, he pulls out a gun, then he orders him to shut off the motorcycle before he even identifies himself.
There could have been a gun fight there.
Just observations of the film.

I respect the police and the work they do, but where is my consent to be filmed if it's the law?
 
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First, the police car does not have any flashing strobes or blue lights on it, if it did, they were not visible in the video.
Second, the cop was not in uniform.
Third, he pulls out a gun, then he orders him to shut off the motorcycle before he even identifies himself.
There could have been a gun fight there.
Just observations of the film.

I respect the police and the work they do, but where is my consent to be filmed if it's the law?
I think the lights weren't visible in the video, because something makes the cyclist turn his head around 180degs @3:00 in the video. The trooper's badge is visible next to his holster @3:26. I know the vantage point is slightly different from the point of angle of the camera (mounted on top of his helmet) and the cyclists line of eyesight, so it is possible that the cyclist saw the badge before we do watching the video. Like I said, the trooper is doing his job, the guy on the bike was breaking the law...he won the stupid prize of the day. Lastly, WRT your consent if being filmed by the law (in Mass), they don't need that anymore than you need their's should you wish to video (without surreptitiously audio taping) them.
 
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drgrant

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This is not going to go anywhere good.

Maybe when the verdict/appeals/etc come out we can actually talk about the wiretap law instead of getting into rotational self-flagellation about whether or not the guy with the motorbike was a moron or not. [laugh]

-Mike
 
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